Get Those Documents Done!
Make sure Mom or Dad has their estate planning documents completed or recently updated. Most important are:
- Living Trust or Will
- Most likely, Mom and/or Dad will be trustees. But who Is Successor Trustee(s)?
- Is it time to have one or both of the parents resign as Trustee(s) and move Successor Trustee to Trustee? This transfer cannot occur if the parent has dementia or lack of capacity so take care of it sooner vs later.
- Most senior living establishments don’t need copies of the Living Trust or Will, but as a family one of these is essential.
- Durable Power of Attorney for Finance: Senior Living establishments will need a Durable Power of Attorney document that gives adult children the authority to make decisions on the loved ones’ behalf.
- Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD): Again, Senior Living establishments will need a copy of this.
- POLST – Physician’s Order for Life Sustaining Treatment. Must be signed and dated by elder and his/her doctor (not lawyer). Keep bright pink copy on her refrigerator (and keep a copy). Also not required but nevertheless, it is a really good idea. See <POLST form under Resources>
- DNR. This is usually replaced by the POLST.
Locate and Organize Health Records
- Gather names and phone numbers of all his/her doctors, dentist, specialists in one document.
- Obtain accurate medication list and be sure all doctors have the same information. Update it with every appointment.
- Obtain copies of Medicare and supplemental health coverage cards. AHCD appointee must be clear about Medicare, the supplement insurance benefits and have copies of the Medicare and supplemental insurance cards.
- Discuss her health in detail with her. Be sure you understand it. How will known conditions progress? Go with her to doctor appointments to learn from and communicate more with the doctors. She may forget details (or hide them).
- Seek expert information and advice about any physical or mental health issues that haven’t been discussed by now. This includes addictions, mental health problems, and any other untouchable topics.
- Make sure all siblings have a copy of these things, too.
How are the Finances?
- The DPOA must understand your loved one’s financial situation. This may have been an touchy subject up until now but it is crucial that the Successor Trustee or DPOA know where her money is, how to access it, and which resources are liquid. This person must also understand her Medicare and supplemental insurance.
- Early on, choose which adult-child will take over the daily money management. This includes understanding medical bills. It does not have to be the financial DPOA; you may want to engage a Daily Money Manager.
- Meet with all the siblings and have Mom or Dad appoint one of you to be the point person for doctors, caregivers, assisted living staff.
- If Mom will be moved to senior living choose a ‘community’ that is close to at least one of her children. Do not select a senior living community equidistant in between the siblings. Choose a place no more than 15 minutes (including traffic) from one adult child who will support her on a regular basis.
- Devise a format for communication between siblings. There are several apps for this.
End of Life
- Discuss with parent(s) and family members Mom or Dad’s wishes for the end of life. Discuss the POLST and hospice.
- Try “Five Wishes” to help them communicate their wishes to you. This is includes things like life support, location at time of death, comfort and pain management, how they want to be treated by medical professionals, services, burials, etc.
You know by now that I strongly encourage the family to create a plan for the parent’s aging process. These documents are a big part of being prepared. Our crystal ball cannot tell us what will happen and when, but with these documents, you can achieve some peace of mind.
Need a referral for an estate planning attorney? Call me and we will choose the best one for you.
ALWAYS feel free to call Millie at 415-987-8636!